Hunting with an air rifle is a popular pastime for many people, and is a great way to catch rabbits and other small game. The quiet sound of the shot makes it a perfect fit for short-range hunting, letting you sneak up closer and fully interact with nature. If you’re struggling to catch anything with an air rifle, there are many things you can do to improve your skills. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your small game hunting trips.
Learn to Aim
Before you start shooting accurately, you will obviously need to practice a lot, and air rifles are no exception. When you are hunting at close range with an air rifle, you usually have a single shot per load, which means your first shot is important. If you miss your first shot, you’ll need to spend time reloading, and the game will have dispersed by that time and your chances to get a decent shot will fade quickly. For these reasons, you need to make sure that your first shot hits the target. The best way to improve your aim is to set up a practice range, which you can easily do in your backyard or basement.
Aim for a Headshot
Since air rifles aren’t as powerful as a regular firearm, your best chance for a kill is to take a headshot. You may hurt the game with a body shot using air rifle but often you won’t be able to chase the injured game. A headshot, even with an air rifle, is always a solid hit.
Choose the right rifle
This goes without saying—you can’t hunt a deer with .22 caliber pellets. Usually, .22 pellets are a good choice but you may need a different caliber size gun depending on your hunting priorities. You can usually find them in sizes as small as .177 calibers for hunting small game and as large as 0.5 calibers for hunting large game.
Never Stand in the Open
Wear camouflage and try to conceal yourself from the game by standing outside of its line of sight. This isn’t just for hunting with an air rifle but you should bring this into practice with all your hunting campaigns. Standing in the open would rarely give you a first clean shot and never a second shot.
Move Quickly and Quietly
Good movement is one of the most important skills when it comes to close-range hunting. With air rifle hunting, you have to watch your steps very closely. Avoid moving through branches and stepping on sticks or anything that would snap easily. Making just a small noise is enough to alert the animals of your presence, and would waste an hour’s effort of tracking and finding a good shooting position.
Know the Hunting Laws
You should never go out on a hunting spree unless you have learned the proper hunting laws. You don’t want to get into trouble when all you wanted was some fun with your air rifle. Talk to your local hunting club to find out information about your local hunting laws.
Hunting at Night
If you think you can hunt at night with just a hand-held hunting lamp, you are mistaken. When hunting with an air rifle, you also need to have scope-mounted lamps so that you can hunt in close range. Scope-mounted lamps are usually powered by a 6v or 12v battery that can easily last for an entire night.